Robbie Neilson intends to honour his three-year Hearts contract and will not leave Tynecastle this summer even if a bigger club tries to tempt him.
The league title win has prompted concern amongst fans that the head coach could be prised away by, but Neilson today emphatically shot down that notion.
He signed a three-year deal upon his appointment as Hearts head coach last summer and said he wants to continue his development as a young manager. He will lead his team into the Scottish Premiership next season and insisted he has long-term plans with the Edinburgh club.
Director of football Craig Levein promoted Neilson from under-20 coach to head coach last year, and the 34-year-old responded by delivering the Scottish Championship title in his first season. He now has further ambitions to return Hearts to a challenging position in the upper echelons of the Scottish game.
“I’ve still got long-term plans here. I’m only just in the door,” Neilson told the Evening News. “Coaches are like players in the sense that you can jump too soon. You can get carried away and go to the wrong place to early.
“I’ve spoken to the younger players about staying here, trying to get 60 to 100 games under their belt, get experience and then make the right move when they’re ready. It’s the same with coaches. You can’t just think that, because you’ve had a decent season, you’re ready to go and make a big step somewhere else. You need to make sure you get that experience first before you’re ready to move.
“When I came in I signed a three-year deal and I’m a year into it so I’ve still got a bit left. It’s not something that has even come up at all. Craig knows my thoughts on things. My thoughts are exactly what I say to the players: stay at the club, develop as well as you can, then if you feel you’re ready to go two or three years down the line, everything has gone well.”
Hearts will begin pre-season training on June 19 this year, with the Premiership campaign due to start on August 1. Neilson stressed his summer plans do not involve a move for the out-of-contract Inverness winger Marley Watkins, as has been reported. “He’s not a player I’m looking at as I have young guys in there who have come though the club. We are pretty well stocked in that position and it’s not an area I’m looking to strengthen.”